Nursing Instructor Careers: Job Description & Salary Information

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Get the truth about a nursing instructor's salary, education and licensure requirements. Read the job descriptions and see the pros and cons of becoming a nurse instructor.
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Pros and Cons of a Career as a Nurse Instructor

As a nurse instructor or nurse educator, you'll have a hand in teaching nurses who are new to the healthcare field. You'll need to be licensed as a registered nurse (RN) and will likely also need to have several years of experience working as a nurse before you can obtain a position as a nurse educator. Check out the most common pros and cons of being a nursing instructor.

Pros of a Nurse Instructor Career
Nursing instructors are in great demand (more than 68,000 nursing students were turned away in 2014 due to a shortage of nursing instructors)*
Higher-than-average pay (Median wage around $66,100 in 2014)**
Opportunities to pursue research***
Ability to guide aspiring nurses to help individual patients in the future***

Cons of a Nursing Instructor Career
Master of Science in Nursing typically required****
Much time is spent developing curricula***
Advancement may require a doctoral degree (37% have doctoral or professional degrees)***
This job may require work on evenings and weekends***

Sources: *American Association of Colleges of Nursing, **The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, ***Occupational Information Network, ****May 2012 job postings.

Career Information

Job Duties

A nurse educator's duties include planning and evaluating curricula, delivering lectures and supervising students' during clinical sessions. These professionals must try to keep up with the changes in the field of nursing and be able to facilitate discussions with students. They may end up working nights and weekends, often spending out-of-the-classroom hours creating lesson plans or grading students' work. They may also have the opportunity to conduct original research into a particular nursing specialty.

Salary and Career Outlook

According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), nursing instructors and educators earned a median annual salary of about $66,100 in 2014. Employment in the field is estimated to increase 35% over the 2012 to 2022 decade, which is greatly above the average expected occupational growth for that time.

What Are the Requirements?

Education and Licensure Requirements

To work as a nurse educator, you must first obtain an undergraduate degree in nursing, as well as licensure to become a registered nurse. There are multiple options to become a registered nurse, but a common path is to earn a Bachelor of Science in Nursing (BSN). It can take 4-5 years to obtain the BSN, depending on the plan you choose. You'll study health and illness from the nursing perspective, clinical concepts, children's and family healthcare and pharmacology. You'll gain experience in real-life situations through clinical sessions and study nursing leadership as well.

What Are Employers Looking For?

To become a nurse educator, you'll need to be a licensed registered nurse (RN). Many employers require a master's degree in nursing, which requires further study. Read about some of the jobs open in May 2012:

  • A Wisconsin technical college seeks a full-time nursing instructor to teach in clinical and classroom situations. This individual should be flexible, because class assignments and locations may change from term to term. This individual must be pursuing a Master of Science in Nursing or have a Master of Science in Nursing. He or she must have at least two years nursing experience in the past five years.
  • A Florida corporation is seeking a nursing instructor to teach at a nursing college. This individual must have a Master of Science in Nursing, and prior teaching experience is preferred.
  • An Indiana community college seeks a nursing educator to teach clinical and classroom segments, provide professional development opportunities and assist in program management. This individual must be a registered nurse licensed in Indiana with a Master of Science in Nursing, or a bachelor's degree and master's degree in related fields.
  • A Tennessee college seeks a nursing educator for a 9-month tenure track position. This individual should be flexible regarding class scheduling and instruction methods. Candidates must have a Master of Science in Nursing. Experience in psychiatric mental health, pediatric nursing or medical and surgical nursing is preferred.
  • A Texas hospital seeks a nurse educator to coordinate and conduct educational programs for the nursing staff. This person must have a Bachelor of Science in Nursing, 3-5 years of experience and a Texas license to practice as a registered nurse.

How to Stand Out

Earning a Master of Science in Nursing is one of the strongest moves you can make to increase your chances of securing a position as a nurse educator. That particular degree program will take approximately two years to complete. In an MSN program you can expect to study pharmacology, critical care nursing, nursing theory and multiple clinical courses to gain experience and see what working in a healthcare setting is like. You'll have the option to focus on a specialty, like acute care nurse practitioner, nurse-midwifery or pediatric nursing, among others.

Other Career Options

If you want a career in the medical field, but the education requirements for a nurse educator chill your enthusiasm, consider a career as a registered nurse. This option requires a diploma, associate degree or BSN, which amounts to less education than is required for a nurse educator. According to the BLS, hiring of registered nurses is expected to increase faster than average between 2010 and 2020. In May 2011, there were more than two million registered nurses working in the United States. Many of these individuals reported earnings between $45,000 and $97,000 annually.

Another option for a career in the health industry is to pursue a career as an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) or paramedic (EMT-P). You can join this profession with an associate degree in Emergency Medical Technician- Basic or EMT-P, as well as state certification as an EMT. Employment of these professionals is expected to increase 33% between 2010 and 2020, according to the BLS, which does not differentiate between the certification levels in its salary information. In May 2011, there were 229,340 EMTs and paramedics employed nationwide. Many of these professionals reported earnings between $20,000 and $53,000 annually.

Popular Schools

  • Online Programs Available
    1. Purdue University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • M.S. in Health Education
      • Master: Higher Education - College Teaching/Learning
    Bachelor's
      • BS in Early Childhood Administration
    Certificate
      • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate
  • Online Programs Available
    2. Grand Canyon University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
      • Ed.D. in Organizational Leadership - Behavioral Health
    Master's
      • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MS in Nursing: Nursing Education
      • MA in Curriculum and Instruction
      • M.A. in Communication with an Emphasis in Education
      • M.Ed. in Elementary Education
      • M.Ed. in Secondary Education
    Bachelor's
      • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education
      • B.S. in Elementary Education with an Emphasis in Christian Education
      • BS in Early Childhood
      • B.S. in Early Childhood Education and Early Childhood Special Education
  • Online Programs Available
    3. The George Washington University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    4. Colorado State University Global

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS - Teaching and Learning
  • Online Programs Available
    5. The University of Texas at Arlington

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Educaiton
  • Online Programs Available
    6. Saint Joseph's University

    Program Options

    Master's
      • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification
  • Online Programs Available
    7. Queens University of Charlotte

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator
  • Online Programs Available
    8. Concordia University Portland

    Program Options

    Master's
      • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
      • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Reading
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Science
      • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Mathematics
      • M.S. - Career and Technical Education (CTE)
  • Online Programs Available
    9. Penn Foster High School

    Program Options

    High School Diploma
      • HS Diploma
  • Online Programs Available
    10. Northcentral University

    Program Options

    Doctorate
      • Education Specialist - Nursing Education
      • Ed.D. - General Education
      • EdD - Learning Analytics in Higher Education
      • PhD in Education - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Ed.D. - Curriculum and Teaching
    Master's
      • M.Ed. - Curriculum and Teaching
      • M.Ed. - General Education
      • M.Ed. - Early Childhood Education
    Certificate
      • Education Specialist - Curriculum and Teaching
      • Education Specialist - Early Childhood Education

Featured Schools

Purdue University Global

  • M.S. in Health Education
  • BS in Early Childhood Administration
  • Nurse Educator Graduate Certificate

Which subject are you interested in?

Grand Canyon University

  • Doctor of Education in Teaching and Learning with an Emphasis in Adult Learning
  • M.S. in Nursing: Nursing Education
  • Bachelor of Science in Elementary Education

What is your highest level of education?

The George Washington University

  • Master of Arts in Education and Human Development in Organizational Leadership and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

Colorado State University Global

  • MS - Teaching and Learning

What is your highest level of education?

The University of Texas at Arlington

  • Master of Science in Nursing (MSN) in Nursing Educaiton

What is your highest level of education completed?

Saint Joseph's University

  • MS in Education - Special Education and Wilson Reading System Certification

What is your highest level of education completed?

Queens University of Charlotte

  • Master of Science in Nursing: Nurse Educator

What is your highest level of education completed?

Concordia University Portland

  • Master of Education - Curriculum & Instruction: Leadership
  • MEd in Curriculum and Instruction - STEAM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Math)
  • M.S. - Curriculum & Instruction: Reading

What is your highest level of education?